If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that diet is a word I am not a huge fan of because most often than not it encompasses a gimmicky product that promises to melt pounds right off of you within days, without requiring you to put in any effort……or so it claims. In reality, all it does is gets your metabolism out of whack, making your mental and physical state worse than ever before.
But that’s because it is not meant to bring you results, other than make some shady company money.
DASH diet is different because it is not a diet at all. Anyone can start on it right now. It is a healthy way of eating that brings with it a variety of benefits, some of which includes reducing kidney stones, lowering blood pressure, and preventing the occurrence of heart disease of stroke. In fact, The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend this diet as well.
So, what exactly is DASH Diet?
Also known as a “diet for all diseases”. DASH Diet is a healthy approach towards clean eating which enforces a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and non fat or low fat diary sources. Along with that the use of grains (especially whole grains), lean meats, fish, nuts and beans is also encouraged.
DASH which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was initially designed to help individuals stabilize their blood pressure, but a great side effect of this includes weight loss. Plus, amp-ing up this plan by removing refined gains and dairies like cheese and milk, will give you even more weight loss.
Benefits of DASH Diet?
Research shows that with the DASH diet, you can lower your blood pressure in just 14 days. Consistently following this diet will decrease it by 7-12 points; just that amount will decrease your risk for many serious ailments.
This diets promotes an eating lifestyle that is high in potassium, magnesium calcium and fiber, while being low in sodium. The way healthy eating affects our blood pressure is almost as impactful as a prescribed medication. It lowers your risk for diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer as well.
DASH Diet: Two Versions
In a standard American diet which consists of a lot of processed and pre made foods, people consume more than 3,400 mg of Sodium a day, when the daily recommended intake is less than 2,300 mg per day.
Both versions of DASH Diets stresses low amounts of sodium intake.
There are two versions of this diet available:-
- Standard DASH Diet- Maximum allowed Sodium= 2,300 mg per day.
- Lower sodium DASH Diet- Maximum allowed Sodium= 1,500 mg per day.
The first plan is based on the daily recommended sodium intake, while the second is for adults for the age of 51, or people who suffer from diabetes, hypertension or a chronic kidney disorder.
DASH Diet: What do you get to eat?
DASH Diet primarily contains foods that have little to no cholesterol, low fat and sodium.
Grains- Whole grains are highly recommended, since they are loaded with fiber and nutrients, and have very little fat. Examples include, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and Ezekiel bread
Vegetables- Frozen and canned vegetables are not recommended. Also, don’t hold back to using vegetables just as side dishes. Use a good amount of freshly cooked vegetables over whole wheat pasta or rice. Some examples of vegetables filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber includes sweet potatoes, kale, tomato, spinach and green beans.
Fruits- Since they are readily available and fully infused with bouts of minerals, vitamins and fibers, fruits should be used as snack and even as dessert. Leave the peel on if they are edible because in most cases they contain the most nutrients.
Dairy- Although the DASH Diet recommends low fat or fat free diary options, I would recommend looking for non-diary sources. For example using nut based milk instead of cows’ milk.
Lean meat and fish- Meat is high in protein, Vitamin B, Zinc and Iron, but it is also high in cholesterol, which is why you should cut back on red meat. Opt for lean meat, seafood or skinless poultry from which you trim the fat away when cooking. Also, this diet recommends that you cut back on meat portion and double up the veggies.
Nuts, seeds and legumes- Those are a powerhouse of essential nutrients that our body needs to function effectively. Beans, lentils, seeds, peas, cashews, walnuts, almonds and the others are rich in magnesium, potassium, fiber, antioxidants and protein. Small sizes of these are recommended daily.
Fats- Fats are very important, but take the wrong one and your risk for heart disease will sky rocket. DASH diet recommends keeping fat to 27% of your total daily calories. Most of the fat should be monounsaturated fat which is found heavily in avocados, coconut oil etc.
Sweet- When opting for sweets, skip the boxed cookies and trail mix that are heavily laden in sugar. Look for products that use natural sugar alternatives like maple syrup or honey. Make your own juice from fruits, rather than buying artificially flavored dupes from the store.
Alcohol and Caffeine- The DASH diet recommends that you cut back on alcohol because it can increase your blood pressure. But it doesn’t say anything about caffeine. I personally recommend green tea or Oolong tea because it contains natural caffeine, but not as strong as coffee and they also provide many other health benefits including weight loss.
Everyone should adopt this diet regardless of whether or not you have hypertension. It enforces healthy eating practices that everyone will definitely benefit from. Although it doesn’t endorse weight loss as its main benefits, you will find your body stronger and slimmer once you consistently engage in this diet that endorses clean eating.
Have you heard of this diet before? If yes, have you tried it? Please let us know in the comments below!